'Green' Driving Tips for Couriers
As a job based entirely on driving, courier work is reliant on fuel, in the form of petrol or diesel. While the ecological impact of this industry is never going to be zero, it’s still worth attempting to minimise your fuel consumption and carbon emissions, both for the sake of the planet and your wallet. And it's not as hard as you may imagine – a little effort goes a long way.
Clients frequently emphasise how urgent it is that their delivery is made as quickly as possible, but it's important to weigh up the impact. Consider aiming for a moderate pace of around 50-60mph, rather than going as fast as possible while doing your courier work. This will save fuel, limit your costs, and also reduce the likelihood of being stopped for speeding or getting into an accident - either of which can delay a delivery.
Avoid Sudden Acceleration and Braking
While you shouldn’t be afraid to use your available horsepower or brakes when necessary, maintaining a steadier pace and accelerating or breaking in a smooth, controlled fashion reduces fuel consumption, and aids in avoiding wear and tear on your vehicle. When you do a lot of courier work, van maintenance can become a significant cost, so even a small amount of wear and tear can translate to a hefty outlay.
When you do need to slow down, be sure to do it with your brakes - gently, unless it’s an emergency situation. Many drivers slow down by decreasing the gear, but this can put a lot of strain on the clutch, not to mention on fuel consumption. Replacing brake pads is cheap (both in terms of fiscal and ecological cost) when compared to replacing your clutch or your gearbox. You should also use cruise control, if you have it, because it’s more effective at keeping a steady speed.
Go Easy On the Car Battery
Doing courier work means being in a vehicle for long periods, so it’s quite common for drivers to have 12-volt car adapters for gadgets, like phones, MP3 players, e-cigarettes, or anything else. While handy in a pinch, car batteries are charged by your engine, which is more expensive to run than your mains, so you should avoid relying on your vehicle’s electricity. Get a full charge on your gadgets at home and save the in-car charging for emergencies and you’ll end up burning less fuel.
This applies to climate control as well: dress in a weather-appropriate way so that you don’t have to blast the air conditioning or heating more than you need to. Also, avoid opening your vehicle’s windows while driving, as the increased drag from doing so increases your fuel consumption, especially when moving at a high speed.
While the ecological benefits are increasingly important, you might find that the economic benefits of greener driving are just the incentive you need to keep a closer eye on your fuel consumption.
Norman Dulwich is a correspondent for Courier Exchange, the world's largest neutral trading hub for same day courier work in the express freight exchange industry. Over 4,000 transport exchange businesses are networked together through their website, trading jobs and capacity in a safe 'wholesale' environment.
Writer and Online Marketing Manager in London.